CAIR-NJ, TWM release “Educators’ Guide For Classroom Discussions of 9/11” 

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Muslims pray Friday at Dulles High School in Sugar Land, Texas, on Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s holiest days. Must credit: Photo by John Taggart for The Washington Post

The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) and Teaching While Muslim, on Sept. 8, 2022, launched an educator’s guide to classroom discussions surrounding 9/11.

The guide offers lesson plans and curriculum guides that will help teachers develop a more nuanced approach to the subject of 9/11 and its impact on Muslim students, a press release from CAIR-NJ said. It includes essential questions, such as the significance of 9/11, the rise in anti-Muslim bullying in schools, and resources on how to combat Islamophobia in the classroom. Please circulate this guide with your educators.

“Muslim students have long reported incidents of bullying related to their religion and ethnic background to our office, sometimes triggered by inappropriate comments made in classrooms on anniversaries of September 11, 2001,”   Executive Director of CAIR-NJ Selaedin Maksut is quoted saying in the press release.

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“We are hopeful that this guide will help educators and students adopt a proactive approach to Islamophobia in the classroom,” he added.

“It is also imperative that students have a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, including the hate crimes, illegal discrimination, government abuses, and wars overseas that continue to impact not only American Muslims, but the American people and people around the world,”  Maksut added.

In a statement, Teaching While Muslim Founding Executive Director Nagla Bedir and Assistant Director Maheen Ahmad said despite two decades since the horrific terrorist attack in 2001, there is still an “extensive” amount of misinformation about 9/11 that contributes to an inaccurate understanding of the world.

“However, as educators ourselves, we believe it is a teacher’s responsibility to not perpetuate misinformation of any kind in the classroom,” Bedir and Ahmad said.   This misinformation was at the root of anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia, they noted, adding that it is a teacher’s duty to educate themselves and the students.

“This teacher’s guide is intended to alleviate the job of educators by providing them with comprehensive resources and lesson plans to better understand what happened on that tragic day and the lasting national and global repercussions.”

CAIR-NJ said it documented at least five anti-Muslim incidents in New Jersey public schools during the 2021-2022 academic year.

In one incident, a Ridgefield teacher said, “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” when a Muslim student asked for an extension on his homework. In another incident, a New Jersey middle school teacher called people from Afghanistan and Pakistan terrorists, the press release said.

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